Jesse James

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Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri on the Fifth of September 1847. His parents were Zerelda and Robert James. They were hemp farmers that owned six slaves, but most people wouldn’t know that. They only know him as an outlaw. Nevertheless, the name “Jesse James” is one that almost everyone has heard, even though he has been dead for over one hundred years. (Defeat n. pg.) Now, although Jesse James was a traditional outlaw in many respects, his legend perseveres as an icon of American culture.

When the Civil War began, Jesse had to watch his older brother Frank go off to fight for the rebellion. While Frank was away, he got involved with a group of pro-Confederates “who brought the wrath of Union militiamen to the James family. Jesse was roughed up and his stepfather was tortured for information. This may have been the spark that set off Jesse's flame.”(Death n. pg.)

In the spring of 1864, at the age of sixteen, Jesse James joined a group led by "Bloody Bill" Anderson. They terrorized pro-Union enemies within Missouri. James was still a teenager at the time, and probably very impressionable. He participated in quite a bit of violence with this group, including the notorious “Centralia massacre”, where twenty-two unarmed Union soldiers and a hundred others were for the most part, butchered. It was experiences like this that helped shape the man Jesse James would become. (Notorious pg. na.)

Most of the members in the group returned to a normal civilized life after the war ended. They stopped with the violence and went back to farming and working. Jesse and Frank James could not do the same. The brothers did not feel the same peace as

everyone else. They felt a sense of humiliation from the Confederate defeat. Jesse...

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.... (Death n. pg.)

Jesse and his gang robbed banks, and trains for a long time, almost immune to the law. They were taken in and assisted by Confederate “sympathizers”, and they escaped from authorities over continuously. Perhaps Jesse began to believe in his own invulnerability, and it could very well have been responsible for his death.


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“The Death of Jesse James.” Apr 2008.

"The Defeat of Jesse James Days Celebration." Apr 1 2008. .

Fenton, Robert. Personal interview. Apr. 2008. History Buff.

"Jesse James." FrontierTimes. 1 Apr. 2008 .

"A NOTORIOUS OUTLAW MURDERED." The Globe Democrat. Nov 4, 1879. Apr 1, 2008

Stiles, T J. Jesse James. New York: Vintage Books, 2003.

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